Ally Mash (Lindsay Shaw), aka "Smash Mash," the 16-year-old tennis veteran, is playing against one of her rivals, Katina Upranova (Susie Abromeit, Battle Los Angeles), when she lands awkwardly and twists one of her ankles. Her father, Dave (Keith Coulouris, Shadow People), a former tennis pro and U.S. Open winner, orders her to default (lose the game), and he hires a bevy of professionals that will help Ally repair her ankle, both physically (a yoga instructor) and mentally (a sports psychologist). What he doesn't count on, however, is Ally being distracted, as she's just met an amateur tennis player named Farrell Gambles (Chandler Massey, TV's Days of Our Lives), and is starting to fall for him. Ally helps Farrell improve his tennis game, and in the process, he shows her what life can be like for a normal teenager. Ally must still train once her ankle heals, however, because the championship game is fast approaching, in which she will be facing Upranova again to try to reclaim her #1 spot.
Like any indie film, 16-Love had its good parts and its slightly awkward ones. Some of the minor characters, like a hopped-up tennis player aptly named Red Bull (Josh Blaylock, No Country for Old Men), were kind-of annoying and not really needed, although Farrell's friends Nate (Mark Elias, The Revenant) and Stuart (Steven Christopher Parker, Juno) provided some comedy at times. Ally's best friend Rebecca (Lindsey Black, TV's As the Bell Rings), too, was interesting because she worked at a hot dog stand at the mall, and had to wear an ugly uniform and withstand constant teasing like "I'd like a slice of pizza, please!" from her friends.
Yes, see this movie - if you can find it. If you don't live in the markets where it's being released theatrically, you can find it on your cable provider's On-Demand, or online. Although the movie didn't make me laugh that much, the love story between Ally and Farrell is cute - as well as Chandler Massey's (Farrell's) infectious grin - and the tennis playing is great. Susie Abromeit (Upranova) actually played tennis for her college team, which is probably one of the reasons that the tennis-playing in the movie looks so authentic; I would be interested in knowing how much the other actors had to train to learn how to play so well. The last tennis sequence is a tad too long, but provides a nice ending, and you can't help but root for the 16-Love kids.
16-Love is currently in select theaters and on on-demand, and is rated PG with a runtime of 88 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.
(Currently playing in: San Diego; Salt Lake City; Denver; L.A.; Independence, KS; Liberty, MO; Oakview, NE; Atlanta; the Bronx; Manchester, VT; Chandler, AZ; D.C.; and Omaha, NE. You can also find it on-demand on Comcast/Xfinity; Cox, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, among others. For a full list of theaters/on-demand sites, click here and go to "Watch 16-Love")
*Disclosure: I received a screener DVD of 16-Love from Uptown 6 Productions to review. The opinions listed, however, are my own.
^ Check out a video on the making of 16-Love above.